Women….in the eyes of the UAE


Given we began this week celebrating International Women’s Day, it was only appropriate to base this post on the occasion. We had an inter-office event filled with fun and games to bring all the ladies together and celebrate this special recognition…..yet there was an informative aspect as well! We found out that the UAE ranks number one in the world for treating women with respect, according to the 2014 release of the global Social Progress Index, a study comparing development and well-being among all 132 nations of the world. Although some might find it shocking that a Middle Eastern country, who’s woman are obliged to cover and stay home (according to media’s portrayal) can achieve such a ranking. But in all reality, for anyone that lives in the region they tend to see a different perspective. So let’s look at a few numbers – there are 468,888 women in UAE, making up 43% of the labor force, with 14,000 women running their own business; 22.5% presence in parliament; and 17% presence as UAE ministers. Pretty impressive, right! Here are a few more stats – According to the 2013 WEF Global Gender Gap Report, the UAE is the only Arab country in the MENA region that has fully closed the educational attainment gender gap. The UAE ranked 6th on the report’s literacy rate indicator (out of a total of 136 countries), and 7th on enrollment in the primary education indicator. Women literacy rate is at 91%, with 95% of female high-school graduates pursuing further education at tertiary-level institutions, compared with 80% of males. With all that, it’s no wonder the UAE achieved a ranking of 40th in the 2013 UN Human Development Report Gender Inequality Index. Those numbers had us all in awe, further imbedding our awareness of the value the rulers of the country have towards their people (irrespective of gender). It also highlighted the misconceptions defined by media for the Middle East, and GCC in particular, for being gender biased, with Islamic countries portrayed as oppressive towards woman! I’d like to close off on a final note… Although it’s wonderful to celebrate women, who they are, and their accomplishments, I hope that one day, we will not have to celebrate International Women’s Day. That we will be living in a society in which we are all individuals with capabilities irrespective of gender, and it will not be necessary to highlight achievements by women as special or extraordinary, but rather that all achievements are measured by their impact, and irrespective of who achieved them! Additional Sources: http://www.dwe.gov.ae/stat.aspx http://www.anankemag.com/report-empowering-women-in-the-uae/ http://www.uaeinteract.com/society/women.asp


4 thoughts on “Women….in the eyes of the UAE

  1. Dear Cambridge Girl,
    I really liked your post. As a woman like you, I do hope too that someday we won’t need to celebrate our day and our achievements. It must be natural having the same salaries as man do, the same opportunities and etc. It was quite impressive to hear from you the UAE numbers about woman, Yes, what we notice from the media is more about woman being oppressed and less about their good results.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In Vietnam, women are recognized on two occasions, International Women’s Day (8th March) as you mentioned and Vietnamese Women’s Day (20th Oct). We also have a special day to recognize the Teaching profession 20th November designated Teacher’s Day. In addition Medical Professionals i.e. Doctors/Pharmacists are celebrated on Doctor’s Day (27th Feb). And in May, the second Sunday is Mothers’ Day. I am fortunate to be able to be recognized and celebrated on every one of these days as one who belongs to each of these categories and as a woman.
    Vietnam ranks as number 31 of 102 countries on gender equality as per OECD Development Center. It is not too different to UAE ranks 40 (2013 UN Human Development Report Gender Inequality Index). In Vietnam women make up 48% of the labor force and 20% in management position in Government which is significant. However, most Ministers in Vietnam are male. Statistic shows that there are 2 female Ministers only (9.5%). In terms of women in National State Assemblies in Asia Pacific, Vietnam ranks no.2 with 24% after New Zealand.
    In the business sector, the latest ILO’s survey shown that Vietnam ranks no. 76 of 108 countries regarding the proportion of females in management (23%). In 2013, 29.5% enterprise owners are female concentrated in the SME sector.
    From the perspective of a medical doctor, one issue concerns me. Abortion is available on request in Vietnam. Until recently, Vietnam had one of the highest abortion rates worldwide. Frequently abortions are being undertaken when the first child is a girl due to the male child preference (similar in other Asian countries). It is legally prohibited for doctors to display the sex of the unborn child. However, it is reported that parents still would receive the information whether the parents were expecting a “bird” (boy) or a “butterfly” (girl). This leads to gender imbalance which was mentioned as an urgent issue in need of solutions by the Deputy Prime Minister. Nationwide sex ratios at birth in the first six months of 2014 increased to 114.3 males per 100 females. Expert warned that the imbalance with lead to a shortage of 2.3-4.3 million women of marrying age by 2050, causing other social consequences like human trafficking.
    I remember attending a company training course in Thailand and when I mentioned it was women’s day 8th March, my trainers did not know about it. When I explained the significance of the day, they laughed and said that 365 days/year are women’s day. They were mostly are American and British, could we trust them or they just did it to calm the situation and their ignorance. Only God knows!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Cambridgegirl what a wonderfully interesting blog post, thank you!

    and…’ hear her, hear her ‘…. to the ladies who commented above !

    This is something I have wondered about a lot honestly. All I see so often in the press is the ‘bad’ press and the images of women covered in black from head to toe … even if it is Jimmy Choo toes ….. This post is really enlightening thank you.
    I couldn’t agree more with your closing paragraph, I look forward to the year when we won’t need a special week to celebrate our achievements and campaigns for the rights of woman. I look forward to the year when it’s a given that woman and all people are equals.
    In my opinion it was a bit of a tragedy seeing Patricia Arquette use her acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars to call for women’s rights – and more unfortunate to see how Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez were clapping, clearly an issue they feel strongly about. Hard to believe in a country where a woman is running for president there is any call for this.
    Let’s call for the equality of all people and a world where we all respect each other no matter the gender color or country we’re born in.

    Keep blogging I cannot wait to read more !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great blog entry!

    I have to admit that I was very surprised (in a good way) to learn the statistics you mention about women in the UAE. I guess that me as many many other people in the world are the preys of manipulative and biased mass media. I actually have shared the info of your blog among co-workers and they were very surprised too, which just confirmed what you explained about the misconceptions surrounding Islamic countries that are created by being portrayed as oppressive towards woman.

    I also agree with your last paragraph. Hopefully one day we do not have to talk about genders but about people. Leave genders aside and focus in humans and their actions.

    Also, I have always wonder if the approach that has been taken about having gender quotas in jobs and trying to include gender equality language in official documents, just to mention a few examples, is really the best way to achieve equality. Do not get me wrong please, I am a great believer of gender equality and equality of opportunities among people (not only in gender issues but also in religion, social condition, etc.) but I am just not so sure if this type of policies are giving more power to the problem and making people more conscious about gender differences instead of in the many things that brings us together as humans. Could these policies backfire and have a contrary effect by making us look at each other more like men and women instead of just equal people? Which other alternative solutions are available? I do not have an answer but I hope not to have to teach my kinds (when I have them) about gender equality in any other way but as a ridiculous problem of past generations.

    Liked by 1 person

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